15 Best Things to Do in Reading, MA

Reading, MA
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The best things to do in Reading, Massachusetts, offer a fun weekend getaway with its small-town vibe and vibrant downtown.

Reading is a thriving community in Middlesex County.

Early immigrants of the Massachusetts Bay Colony arrived from England in the 1630s via the ports of Lynn and Salem.

In 1644, Reading became a town, adopting its name after England’s Reading.

Reading is about 12 miles from the heart of Boston, with a wealth of recreational, cultural, and educational attractions.

Driving from Reading to New England’s stunning beaches and mountains is also a breeze.

Here are the best things to do in Reading, MA:

Visit Parker Tavern

Exterior of the Parker Tavern
Swampyank at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Parker Tavern is a historic home museum and the oldest building in Reading, constructed in 1694.

During the 18th century, Ephraim Parker ran a bar in the saltbox erected by the farmer and blacksmith Abraham Bryant.

The Sweetser family owned the residence for the majority of the 19th century.

The Reading Antiquarian Society bought it for a pittance in 1923 after the town bought it in 1916.

Reading designated the building as a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

Unleash Your Creativity at Creative Arts

Students of all ages and abilities can benefit from Creative Arts Faculty’s high-quality personalized training.

All its instructors are Suzuki-trained and will work closely with you to ensure that your learning experience fits your needs.

With a group of local parents, Judith O’Hare founded Creative Arts in 1978.

They formed this organization to address the neighborhood’s lack of high-quality arts programs.

Creative Arts moved to the First Congregational Church to create a dynamic center for community arts education to meet the increase of aspiring artists of all disciplines and levels.

Today, it delivers outstanding performing and visual arts teaching to a diverse student body of all ages and levels.

Explore the Stephen Hall House

Exterior of Stephen Hall House
User:Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stephen Hall built the eponymous house in 1850.

Originally constructed out of wood in the 1850s, this one-and-a-half-story structure is a fine example of Reading’s Gothic Victorian architecture.

This house has board-and-batten siding, tall and narrow windows, a central projecting gabled overhang, Gothic arched windows, and a deep eave with brackets.

Andrew Jackson Downing’s design is nearly identical to this home.

However, it appears to have been taken from another property in Wakefield, England.

The National Register of Historic Places listed the property in 1984 as a significant cultural and architectural asset.

Buy Souvenirs from Whitelam Books

Whitelam Books’ objective is to help readers find the next excellent book to read or give as a present.

It features a curated selection of new books across various genres.

Whitelam Book also offers unique literary gifts such as mugs, t-shirts, toys, board games, storybook-related puppets and toys, and greeting cards.

It also sells reading items such as book lights and reading glasses.

Besides selling books, the bookstore aims to be a meeting place and a hub for community events.

Each month, the bookstore features several book readings and signings; they also do children’s story time, scavenger hunts, and contests.

Buy Your Kids Gifts from Goodhearts Children’s Shop

Founded in 1999, Goodhearts offer high-quality traditional and contemporary apparel and gifts for infants and children.

From 2010 to 2013, GoodHearts has earned the Best of North Shore title.

Besides its everyday clothing, GoodHearts offers formal attire for girls and boys, including First Communion dresses and suits, Flower Girl outfits, and more.

The company’s owners, Amy and Karen, are working mothers with small children.

They know firsthand the importance of buying at a store they can trust for high-quality merchandise.

Tour the Capt. Nathaniel Parker Red House

Exterior of Capt. Nathaniel Parker Red House
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You’ll find the historic Capt. Nathaniel Parker Red House along Ash Street.

The two-and-a-half-story traditional Georgian home has five bays of windows and doors on both the north and south facades.

Before 1765, the house was a bar on the coach road, making it an instantly recognizable landmark.

In the late 19th century, Nathaniel Parker and his family still owned the mansion.

Business at the tavern dwindled after the construction of Andover Turnpike (now Main Street) in 1806-07, cutting it off from the rest of the town.

Take Photos of Saint Athanasius Parish’s Unique Roof

In 1960, the Archdiocese of Boston decided that St. Agnes Parish had grown to such an extent that they needed a new Reading parish.

This building was the St. Athanasius parish.

Daniel F. Tulley and Louis A. Scibelli designed and built the church in a modern style.

The church features a rhombus layout that is 155 feet long by 120 feet broad, making it one of the area’s largest churches.

Among the brick church’s most striking features is its concrete roof.

It is a hyperbolic paraboloid roof with a convex and concave axis.

After completion, the roof became the largest hyperbolic paraboloid construction in the West.

In 1962, Richard Cardinal Cushing dedicated the church.

Take advantage of the church’s unusually curved roof through photography.

Go Hiking at Reading Town Forest

You can find recreational pathways and conservation areas throughout the Reading Town Forest.

Established in 1930, the forest covers 290 acres.

The Strout Avenue entrance and the entrance next to Wood End Elementary School are significant entry points for tourists.

Residents have helped preserve the Reading Town Forest for over 90 years.

The forest’s natural beauty and the protected lands provide a welcome respite from the concrete jungle.

Bring Friends to the Meadow Brook Golf Club

Beautiful landscape of Meadow Brook Golf Club
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 1898, the Meadow Brook Golf Club features a nine-hole course.

The Scottish golf pro and course designer Alexander Findlay designed the course.

As a founding member of the Massachusetts Golf Association, Meadow Brook held an annual Meadow Brook Invitational tournament in 1903.

The tournament attracted many top amateurs in the state.

Meadow Brook, a private members-only club in Reading, welcomes members from different Reading neighborhoods.

You can find tennis courts, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a challenging 9-hole golf course at the Club.

The clubhouse serves as a dining facility for the members and can cater to events for up to 140 people.

Its executive chef and dining room team deliver top-notch service, even for a simple lunch or a formal supper.

Go Ice Skating at Burbank Ice Arena

Burbank Ice Arena Ice Skating Rink is a year-round one-sheet indoor ice skating rink.

It started as a one-man operation in 1994.

Burbank Ice Arena’s ice skating programs for all ages attract not only the locals but also visitors.

Ice skating is terrific exercise and a great way to get out of the home, unlike working out at the gym.

The rink also offers ice hockey leagues, tournaments, clinics, and camps.

Prepare for a blast as you take to the ice!

Explore the Beanstalk Adventure Ropes Course

Go on an adventure at Reading’s top ropes course and zip line.

Conquer the 32-foot-tall Sky Trail ropes course and unleash your inner tightrope walker within.

Soar through the air as much as you like at the 69-foot-long Sky Rail zip line.

Participants must be at least 48 inches tall to participate in the course alone.

It features a lower-level ropes course called the Bean Sprout for shorter youngsters who want to experience the same adrenaline rush.

This is a fun experience for the entire family, with a track suitable for all ages.

Enjoy Date Night at the Sunbrella IMAX 3D Theater

Night view of Sunbrella IMAX 3D Theater's exterior
John Phelan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Sunbrella IMAX Theater offers the best moviegoing experience in Reading.

It’s a state-of-the-art cinema with the best image and sound, making summer blockbusters even more exciting.

Sunbrella opened in 2004, double the size of the similar theater in Natick.

It’s also one of two IMAX cinemas housed in a Jordan’s Furniture shop.

In addition to the theater’s excellent sound system, the chairs contain body-conforming foam and built-in subwoofers.

The Sunbrella IMAX 3D Theater can hold up to 500 people.

Let Your Children Make Art at Tin Bucket

The Tin Bucket has established itself as a Reading mainstay in recent years.

Tin Bucket is a gift shop where people may develop their artistic abilities independently through various activities.

They also provide customized private events and access to the gift shop.

Likewise, the Tin Bucket offers a variety of activities for children and adults, ranging from Art Camps to Paint/Create Parties.

Read a Good Book at Reading Public Library

Exterior of Reading Public Library
John Phelan, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Horace G. Wadlin designed and built this two-story brick-and-concrete Renaissance Revival structure in 1896-97.

Until 1981, it operated as the town’s public school.

In terms of design, it’s the town’s most recognizable school.

After the library’s conversion in 1984, the National Register of Historic Places added the building to its record.

The library has a wide range of resources for all sorts of readers.

It also conducts various activities for children, teenagers, and adults.

Buy Fresh Produce at Calareso’s Farm Stand & Garden Center

It’s a great alternative to traditional supermarket shopping, which provides high-quality items.

Calareso’s Farm Stand and Garden Center also provides Dom’s marinated meats, a broad selection of cheeses, dairy goods, pasta, snacks, etc.

You can also find fresh-made cookies, bread, and muffins at the bakery.

Customers can also find fresh bouquets in the store’s cut-flower area.

Seasonal annuals and perennials fill its Garden Center.

The farm also carries bagged dirt, mulch, flags, and firewood.

As the seasons change, don’t forget to see its other offerings!

Final Thoughts

It’s no secret that Reading has a small-town atmosphere.

However, it also has all the contemporary conveniences of a big city.

Its historical, ecological, and entertaining features provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of major cities.

Start planning your Reading trip today!